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Singapore banned Kevin Keller’s wedding comic but not Northstar’s

astonishing xmen51bAn Archie Comics collection was recently banned in Singapore because it features the marriage of gay character Kevin Keller, but Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men #51 managed to escape a similar fate and remains available.

Although that 2012 issue depicts the wedding of Northstar and Kyle Jinadu, Singapore’s Today reports the Media Development Authority determined it was a balanced depiction of same-sex marriage.

“The issue featured characters who objected to the wedding and this offered a balanced treatment on the issue of gay marriage,” an MDA spokesman told the website. In the comic, by Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins, Warbird tells Northstar she “doesn’t recognize the validity of the ceremony vows,” and therefore won’t attend.

The MDA is tasked with both promoting and regulating Singapore’s media industries. Under the Content Guidelines for Imported Publications, those “that encourage, promote or glamourise sexually permissive and alternative lifestyles and deviant sexual practices are generally not allowed.”

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Revisiting ‘Sin Titulo,’ the ‘Lost’ of webcomics

2007-06-17(SPOILER ALERT for Sin Titulo, Lost, The X-Files and probably iCarly.)

Cameron Stewart has a clean, distinguishable artistic style, with a hint of a manga influence, but with panel-to-panel transitions that are more delicate and subdued. His art has become quite popular, with his redesign of Batgirls costume creating something of an Internet sensation. While his artwork lends itself easily to all-ages comics, he’s frequently collaborated with Grant Morrison on such titles as Seaguy, Seven Soldiers and Batman & Robin.

However, his art has also appeared in strange psychological thrillers. In 2010, his webcomic Sin Titulo won the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic, after it had already won the 2009 Shuster Award in the same category.

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Merchandise and GN sales up, comics down, Diamond reports

Diamond Comic DistributorsTotal sales to the direct market increased 3.8 percent in the first half of the year, Diamond Comic Distributors announced during its annual retailer luncheon at Comic-Con International.

Merchandise — toys, apparel, posters, etc. — was the strongest category, climbing 10.4 percent over the same period in 2013, while graphic novels inch upward 2.9 percent. Sales of comics slipped 1.4 percent. In a statement, Chris Powell, Diamond’s vice president of retailer services, framed the performances of the comics and graphic novel categories as “level compared to last year, but [they] are still 12 percent above 2012 sales figures.”

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‘Weapon Brown,’ the ol’ blockhead on steroids

imageMash-ups are pretty easy to come by in the Internet Age. Flash as a Ingmar Bergman movie? Of course that exists. Hello Kitty as Darth Vader? Hello, new cosplay idea. Optimus Prime as a My Little Pony? I’m … I’m pretty sure that’s an official IDW thing. Everything’s a mash-up these days. In fact, you might be a bit sick of it. If I mention, for example, the phrase “Charlie Brown in a post-apocalyptic future,” you cannot be blamed for rolling your eyes so hard that your pupils disappear into your hear, resembling the blank ovals of Li’l Orphan Annie.

But what if I were to tell you it was also rather good? Jason Yungbluth’s Weapon Brown was something of a hit among the snarkier fans of comics strips, i.e. those of the Comics Curmudgeon variety. You know, the kind who enjoy taking a bite out of obsolete zombie comics that populate the funny pages, but deep down have a strong affection for them and an appreciation for the hard-working creators who made them. The comic was originally serialized at whatisdeepfried.com. After “one of the most successful comic book Kickstarter campaigns of 2013,” Weapon Brown was collected into paperback and hardcover earlier this year. On Aug. 13, Yungbluth will be on hand at Forbidden Planet in New York City to sign copies of his book.

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Bob Kane’s own copies of early Batman comics are for sale

detective27-kaneFans with a little extra cash in their pockets — OK, a lot of cash — have a chance to acquire pieces of Dark Knight history, as ComicConnect and Metropolis Collectibles are auctioning Batman co-creator Bob Kane’s own file copies of the character’s earliest appearances.

Those searching for pristine editions of Detective Comics #27 or Batman #1 will have to look elsewhere. These are copies of Detective Comics #27-45 and Batman #1-3 that were bound by DC Comics for editorial reference — as you can see, there’s a row of holes down the left — and later given to Kane. Still, the colors remain vibrant.

“Treasures like this only surface once in a blue moon,” ComicConnect/Metropolis Collectibles CEO Stephen Fishler said in a statement. “I was lucky enough to know Bob Kane. He told me, along with others, that he was just 17 when he sold the Batman character to an unwitting DC. Once the franchise took off, he leveraged that to renegotiate his contract with DC, and the file copies were part of the deal.”

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Comics A.M. | Japan launches anti-piracy initiative

Luffy of "One Piece"

Luffy of “One Piece”

Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]

Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]

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Jon Stewart: ‘With great power comes lack of impulse control’

daily-show-spiderman

Jon Stewart kicked off last night’s episode of The Daily Show with coverage the weekend scuffle in Times Square between New York City police and a man dressed as Ultimate Spider-Man. Hey, if the New York Post can put the story on the front page, The Daily Show can lead with it.

The webslinger, one of numerous costumed characters (several of whom are dress as Spider-Man), was reportedly confronted by an officer after he demanded at least $5 from a family for posing for a photo. Police say when the wall-crawler cursed at the officer and told him to mind his own business — and when the cop moved in to arrest him, things got heated.

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Future of ZombieWalk uncertain after Comic-Con accident

zombiewalk2014

Courtesy of ZombieWalk: San Diego

The future of SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego, held annually during Comic-Con International, is uncertain after a car drove into a crowd of participants and spectators Saturday, injuring three. A scheduled Oct. 26 event has been called off.

“Yes, the October walk is canceled,” organizers posted on their Facebook page. “We are evaluating continuing at all, at this point.”

Accounts of Saturday’s incident vary, but the San Diego Police Department says Honda Accord driven by a deaf man was stopped at Second and Island avenues at 5:30 p.m. as the procession of hundreds of participants in zombie makeup lumbered by. After waiting several minutes, the 48-year-old driver started rolling slowly into the crowd because his children, who are also deaf, were frightened. According to police, several people the surrounded the car and began hitting it, shattering the windshield. That’s when the father reportedly drove forward again, striking the 64-year-old woman. The crowd chased after the car as the family drove toward a police officer.

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Ultimate Spider-Man arrested in scuffle with NYPD

ny post coverWith a front page that rivals anything J. Jonah James has published, the New York Post trumpeted the news Sunday that Spider-Man struck a police officer in the face during an altercation in Times Square. Or, if you prefer “Times Square rampage.”

Interestingly, after countless crimes (allegedly, in some cases) committed in the past couple of years by guys dressed as the Peter Parker-variety Spider-Man — groping a woman, punching a tourist, robbing convenience stores, fighting two Captains America, etc. — this may be the first that involves someone dressed as Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man.

Perhaps more interesting — and certainly more amusing — is that the New York Police Department referred the suspect, 25-year-old Junior Bishop of Brooklyn, as “Spider-Man” throughout its press release. Also: The incident was caught on video, which you can watch below. (Note: It contains profanity.)

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Photo of the Day | Buzz Aldrin, wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet

buzz aldrin

Courtesy of Marvel’s Tumblr arrives what may be my favorite photo of Comic-Con International: Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the Moon, at the Marvel booth wearing not only a T-shirt that reads “Get Your Ass to Mars” but also … the Infinity Gauntlet.

‘As the Crow Flies’: loneliness in the great outdoors

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 7.00.57 AMMountains seem to have been big theme among Eisner nominees this year. In High Crimes, the ever-looming presence of Mount Everest reminds the readers of the upcoming dangers posed by nature.

A similar thing happens in Melanie Gillman’s Eisner-nominated webcomic As the Crow Flies, although not to quite as perilous an extent. There’s no immediate danger here; the mountain is an expanse of wilderness that stretches as far as the eye can see. Long, wordless passages pause to explore the borders, which seem to stretch beyond the page to show that there is no visible end. No tiny towns dotting the landscape, no tiny outposts of civilization beyond a small camp. Just rocks and trees. While there might be a wild animal in that tangle of leaves and branches, that never poses an immediate threat.

No, the biggest danger in these woods is loneliness.

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Image Comics pushes the needle on gender diversity

FromUnderMountains-13258After the January Image Expo, Image Comics received some flak because most of the creators on stage were white men. On Wednesday, Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address to the Image Expo held in conjunction with Comic-Con International included the following comments: “If we want to build a more diverse industry, though, if we want to develop a more diverse talent pool, then it is of utmost importance that we produce comics that appeal to as wide an audience as possible …”

That was said within the context of the historic gender disparity in comics, especially when looking at mainstream comics and the direct market. There’s more evidence than ever that the gender disparity in readership is no longer true; women are just as likely to read comics as men. If that’s true, then one would hope that just as many would be likely to attempt to make comics. That doesn’t seem to have come to pass in this corner of the industry, but Image announced a trio of upcoming releases that will hopefully start to shift the momentum in the right direction. If nothing else, these are among the most promising books to be announced at Image Expo, and they build on the gratifying surge in creator-owned comics.

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Inside DC Comics’ 1990 redesign of Robin

robindesignsadams1_zps7064dda0

With the 25th anniversary of 1989′s Batman, there’s been a resurgence of interest in the Tim Burton movie. As part of that, James at 1989Batman.com has pulled together some excellent threads examining DC Comics’ 1990 redesign of Robin, a project undertaken at the behest of filmmakers.

Out went the elfish garb of the original as DC searched for something more modern — befitting the time, and also primed to be translated into a future Batman film. To accomplish that task, DC turned to several of its top artists at the time, including Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Stephen De Stefano, George Perez and Jim Aparo. DC didn’t tell the artists what it was for; simply, they were asked to redesign the Boy Wonder.

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Is Wally Wood’s ‘Witzend’ a lost treasure or a noble failure?

bookcover_witzenIt seems like the stuff of legend: Wally Wood – the Wally Wood, of EC and MAD fame, fed up with being creatively and financially stifled by the oppressive corporate comics business model, discovers the then-nascent world of fanzines, and inspiration strikes. “Maybe I could create one of these fanzines for me and my friends,” Wood thinks. “We could publish any sort of work we wanted, with no editorial restrictions or code to worry about! Best of all, we’d own it!”

Bear in mind, this was 1966, a good two years or so before the first issue of Zap Comix set the still-budding world of underground comics on fire. The mere notion of comics as any sort of medium for self-expression at the time must have been something that drew wide-eyed stares. But while Wood was certainly no hippie, there’s little doubt he saw this as an opportunity to produce work that he and his friends really cared about.

And what a list of friends. Throughout its run, Witzend collected an impressive roster that included creators like Jim Sterenko, Gray Morrow, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Reed Crandall, Art Spiegelman (some of his first published work), Don Martin (yes, that Don Martin), Alex Toth, P. Craig Russell, Mike Zeck and Joe Staton.

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Mile High Comics may pull out of SDCC over exclusive variants

Mile High Comics' display at Comic-Con International

Mile High Comics’ display at Comic-Con International

Pointing to “seismic changes” in the number of convention-exclusive variants offered by publishers and toymakers, Mile High Comics President Chuck Rozanski has announced that after more than four decades, this may be his last year at Comic-Con International.

While he acknowledges in an installment of his Mile High newsletter that “the detrimental effects of exclusives at San Diego is not a new phenomena,” he asserts “the breadth and the scale” of those products have changed.

“No longer are exclusives limited to just a few booths, or only to Wednesday evening,” Rozanski writes. “We are now seeing all of the major comics publishers, and every single toy and game company, creating limited edition products that they deny us. This aversion to helping comics retailers has become so agregious [sic] and pernicious that I heard from my fellow dealers that some publisher and manufacturer booths were refusing to even allow anyone wearing a dealer’s badge to stand in line. That is beyond ridiculous.”

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